First Impressions of Sombrefell Hall and Lock Picking [Small Spoilers]


Doomsday Dawn Game Master Feedback


3 people marked this as a favorite.

We began doing Sombrefell Hall yesterday. We played 2h 30 min and got to the first banging on the doors. And I have two mayor impressions, both about skill checks.

* The DCs are ridiculous. Perception DC 26 to notice a bump under a carpet? The standard difficulty in the adventure is DC 22. This is a situation when there really is no opposing force. The NPCs in the adventure are not working at cross purposes. There are not a group of malignant maids of level 7 skills hiding evidence. The DCs feel entirely arbitrary.

* Again, the number of die rolls you have to make to resolve some situations are ridiculous, the main example being lock picking.

In this adventure there were a lot of lock picking. We realized that, as long as you have any chance of success (even it it is a 20 only), the best way to open a lock is to always use improvised tools. Sure, you get a -4 penalty, but you never loose successes to avoid breaking your tools since you are not using tools but a set of nails. So, progress is slow, but entirely safe.

Something we decided to do, and which I have been thinking about for some time, is to say that anything that is possible to do in encounter mode, is automatically successful in exploration mode. That saved us about 100 rolls of non-stressful lock picking.


I've tried to keep my campaign RAW to the best of my understanding, but lockpicking is something I had to houserule after the first time we tried it in the first adventure to keep the players from rioting. We changed it to only a single success required, but one round per attempt, instead of three checks at one action per attempt. The quick unlock skill feat then reduces it back to an action per attempt.


Starfox wrote:

We began doing Sombrefell Hall yesterday. We played 2h 30 min and got to the first banging on the doors. And I have two mayor impressions, both about skill checks.

* The DCs are ridiculous. Perception DC 26 to notice a bump under a carpet? The standard difficulty in the adventure is DC 22. This is a situation when there really is no opposing force. The NPCs in the adventure are not working at cross purposes. There are not a group of malignant maids of level 7 skills hiding evidence. The DCs feel entirely arbitrary.

* Again, the number of die rolls you have to make to resolve some situations are ridiculous, the main example being lock picking.

In this adventure there were a lot of lock picking. We realized that, as long as you have any chance of success (even it it is a 20 only), the best way to open a lock is to always use improvised tools. Sure, you get a -4 penalty, but you never loose successes to avoid breaking your tools since you are not using tools but a set of nails. So, progress is slow, but entirely safe.

Something we decided to do, and which I have been thinking about for some time, is to say that anything that is possible to do in encounter mode, is automatically successful in exploration mode. That saved us about 100 rolls of non-stressful lock picking.

A lot of the DCs are set because they are specifically testing out how those DCs work in practice, not because they make sense in the context of the adventure. This habit seems to have bled into some of the PFS stuff, but hopefully won't be a thing when APs start getting dropped.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Captain Morgan wrote:


A lot of the DCs are set because they are specifically testing out how those DCs work in practice, not because they make sense in the context of the adventure. This habit seems to have bled into some of the PFS stuff, but hopefully won't be a thing when APs start getting dropped.

And that is what I am reporting on. I hate how this works.


Session 2 - we did the first 3 events. Fighting in PF2 is fun, but the transition from Exploration to Encounter mode keeps being a problem. We sorely miss surprise rounds, but with some workarounds we got much of the same effect.

Let me give an example. In the first encounter, a number of creatures are bashing at the door. Initiative is rolled. All the PCs delay. The monsters' turn comes up, and they attack the door. The PCs the open the door and all get their turns. Encounter is mostly finished.

I could of course say that initiative has to be rolled AFTER the door is opened, but with the PCs having an observer on the upper floor watching the monsters and a coherent plan, that feels like it would have been very arbitrary.

Talking over how this was to be played out took as much time as playing the actual fight - which wasn't that long. :o

The second encounter was the most exceptional and the most fun. The scout looking out a window spotted the vampires climbing up the walls. Poor monster initiative checks (I penalized the Ghasts again because they were so predictable when the PCs opened the door again, and the vampire spawn rolled poorly). 2 area channels and 3 demoralize stunts later, and a LOT of fumbled Fort saves, the vampires were dust and 2 ghasts were fleeing and one dusted - only one remained and became an easy victim. The ghasts tried to sneak back on the next round, but were eventually seen and Disrupt Undead-ed to dust.

In the third encounter, the PCs patrolled the house, specifically looking out the large windows using darkvision. Wights are not very good at Stealth and were seen. The western group was dusted almost before they entered the room (1 actually got in and was backstabbed by the rogue hanging on to the the outside of the house in order to flank). One of the PCs went directly to the East and spotted those wights, but those had time to get in and start awakening the poltergeist (I let them do this in the wrong room). They almost made it, but the last one was intimidated into fleeing, breaking up the ritual just as its turn was coming up, and was then defeated.

Sum of first 3 waves - No damage to the PCs, 6 channel energy, 4 spells, and 1 pearl form a necklace of fireballs (and 1 resonance) expended. The Poltergeist never got summoned, as the Wights were all killed before they had a chance to spend 2 rounds in the house. The rogue seemed to roll a critical on every attack, but with heavy intimidation and constant flat-footedness that wasn't so very hard. Yes, one of the characters is playing a rogue, it was the only way to get this to ever be played - player wasn't going to make another character.

Assurance on Athletics once again worked well with trip maneuvers, but also climbing up the outside of the house (not a difficult climb, as the Wights could succeed at it). Thanks to Sanctified Ground, the bard saved a lot of actions, which mainly meant more intimidate and whip trips going on.

Edit: Ah yes, the template to level up a monster seemed too strong, the leveled-up wights were way better than the vampire spawn rogues at the same level.


Starfox wrote:
Assurance on Athletics once again worked well with trip maneuvers

Enjoy it while it lasts. You've hit a sweet spot. Master Athletics means a result of 20, needing 19+ against the ghasts and the vampire spawn (and indeed against a normal wight). It's an auto-fail against the elite wights (21+). It's an abundantly stupid rule, and I'm amazed they haven't fixed it yet.


Mudfoot wrote:
Starfox wrote:
Assurance on Athletics once again worked well with trip maneuvers
Enjoy it while it lasts. You've hit a sweet spot. Master Athletics means a result of 20, needing 19+ against the ghasts and the vampire spawn (and indeed against a normal wight). It's an auto-fail against the elite wights (21+). It's an abundantly stupid rule, and I'm amazed they haven't fixed it yet.

We're very aware of that, but Assurance can be retrained in and out at relevant levels - and its just a skill feat anyways. Getting actual utility out of a skill feat is good, however its done.

The one time it was tried against a Wight, that wight was frightened 1, and thus it did work. :)

And I agree Assurance is not well written. Playtests are all about finding out these holes in the rules.

Community / Forums / Archive / Pathfinder / Playtests & Prerelease Discussions / Pathfinder Playtest / Playtest Feedback / Doomsday Dawn Game Master Feedback / First Impressions of Sombrefell Hall and Lock Picking [Small Spoilers] All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.
Recent threads in Doomsday Dawn Game Master Feedback